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February at GAP!

Green Goblins & Yellow Snakes

English Language Arts with Emily & Julie

In the month of February, the K-2 classes worked on finishing their Trader GAP's products for the store. Products like beaded word necklaces, homemade word searches, and brooms were proudly displayed.

On Valentine's day, groups expressed their love and appreciation for GAP School by adding messages, sentences, opinions, pictures, and labels to a giant card given to Educators. In more recent weeks, all groups have gained excitement about our current all school project about the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, Learners have been asking questions, reading facts & articles, and have nature journaled about the wonders of this beautiful mountain range. As groups have discussed the facts about these grandfather mountains through concepts of print, they have also written about their opinions on the mythical creatures of the mountains as well. The Sparrows, Ravens, and Hawks wrote down their opinions on whether the Sasquatch exists. Each Learner exercised stating their belief and following it up with their reasons why.

The Cardinals practiced their descriptive writing about what Sasquatch could look, sound, feel, and smell like. They practiced vowel sounds and Consenent-Vowel-Consenent words. We played games, did puzzles, and practiced writing words. The Learners are working hard on completing CVC word books that they can read and color. They picked up on how CVC words rhyme because the end sounds sounded the same. Some of their favorites were FAT CAT and BIG PIG. We started Charlotte’s Web and learned a lot about spiders and farms. The part where Wilbur escaped really had them laughing.

The Sparrows have been reading Charlotte’s Web and having discussion about spiders and farms. By using the book, the Learners have answered questions, learned vocabulary & site words, and highlighted different parts of speech in sentences directly from the book. We played glued sound (nk, ng, an, and an) games, memory card games, activity sheets, and active games. Making words plural was a welcomed challenge and all the Learners did a fantastic job. We ended the month learning about nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and diving into talking about the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In February we welcomed many challenging ELA topics. Glued sounds (ng,nk,am, and an) were learned through stories and activity stations. Plural nouns were taught through guessing games, making up their own language rules, and crossword puzzles. Vowel teams have been a lot of hard work, but impressively, the Learners picked it right up. They really loved the game where while reading, words were randomly called out from the book, and they yelled back what vowel team was in the word. We started a book called The Summer in the Woods, about two boys who move to VA and find rare coins in a stream. They learned that the coins are stolen and become involved in a mystery. We dove into learning about different coins and the meanings of the images on them.

The Hawks, Ravens, and Sparrows have also started editing. When given a paragraph, run on sentence, or nature journal entry. Learners have been adding and changing punctuation, uppercase, and lowercase letters. In support of their editing, all groups learned a catchy ‘punctuation song’ that can be implemented as they continue to write independently. As usual, groups continue to develop their love of reading through DEAR time, and further their observations during nature journals.

Math with Kyle

We started February with counting and organizing money for Trader GAP’s. While arranging the money, Learners practiced understanding the number values for each coin while helping to organize the store in advance of the grand opening. This month, Cardinals and Sparrows practiced their skip counting and writing numbers while all groups practiced a variety of story problem solving skills.

Later in the month, all Learners started working on their very own GAP calendar to take home! By making calendars, Learners can practice understanding how information is organized in calendars, review the order of the months and days of the week and practice their number writing.

To round out February, we learned a new math card game we call “21.” The first to get to 21 with playing cards wins the round! Through this game Learners of all levels can review single and double digit addition, number recognition and practicing mental math.

As a math introduction to our all school project about the Blue Ridge Mountains, we compared the heights of real mountains in the Blue Ridge and around the world. Learners practiced organizing numbers from smallest to largest and identifying place value. Our mountain top activity has created an opportunity to review expanded form, a way to think about place value, which we will continue into March.

Science with Naomi

During the month of February, science class has ventured into a few different areas. First, we wrapped up our all school project unit on trading, shops and commerce by doing a “Decomposition Graveyard”. The kids researched the number of years it would take for trash items to break down, and we posted that information next to an item. We are hoping the kids will be able to see and think about how long it takes for our consumer goods to break down, and maybe incite enthusiasm about recycling.

Being that our outdoor classroom affords us such rich observational opportunities, we have taken several days to look for signs of spring and document some of the changes. It’s beautiful outside and we are so lucky to be here!

Lastly, we have kicked off our new project, about the history of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have started by asking questions about some of the animals that live in our region. The kids have each started an individual research project on an animal of their choosing that lives in the Blue Ridge. We will be working on that for the next few weeks. We are excited to see how their learning takes shape.

Silver Foxes with Corrie, Sarah, and Tara

In English Language Arts and Social Studies, Silver Fox Learners created more merchandise for the Trader GAP's store by making bookmarks adorned with their original haiku poems, riddle poems, and affirmation statements. The Silvers played an important role by establishing ten norms for conducting business in the school store, and they painted colorful, wooden signs to display these expectations in the Trader GAP's entrance. In creating puns for Valentine’s Day cards, the Silver Fox Learners reviewed homophones, homonyms, and words with multiple definitions. Silver Foxes learned about the word elements de-, hydro, mit, and ject, and had lots of fun brainstorming words that contain them, as well as making sentences using these words. For the 100th day of school, Learners composed creative stories and essays inspired by the prompt “When I am 100 years old…”. Much of the writing was delightfully humorous, but other pieces were highly contemplative, and almost all featured sensory details and figurative language. The Literature Circle groups continue to read, analyze, and practice engaging in civil discourse about their novels.

Time Travel saw the Silvers gearing up for our new unit about the question: what is the history of the Blue Ridge Mountains? They generated lots of probing questions on the topic. Silvers also learned about the regional locations of major tribal communities indigenous to North America and considered the various shelter-building techniques specific to particular tribal communities, including those of Appalachia. Learners enjoyed playing a variation of “The Bean Toss Game,” part skill and part luck, unique to the Cherokee tribe, many of whom hail from the Blue Ridge region. The Silver Foxes also read about some of the (often spooky) myths, legends, and (often hilarious) superstitions of the Blue Ridge Mountain regional communities. Ask your child how to ward off a storm, or a rheumatism! Learners discussed how topography and geography help to shape the culture of a region, especially a mountainous region. Together, they considered how the cultural myths, legends, and superstitions of a community reflect its struggles, beliefs, fears, and hopes. Learners can look forward to conducting more research on the history of the Blue Ridge Mountains and to crafting their own myths and legends, incorporating what they have learned. New ideas are sprouting as springtime approaches in the Silver Fox class!

The Trader GAP Unit provided many opportunities for Learners to apply their math skills and science knowledge. Math was utilized at almost every step in this process from production, staging, selling, earning a profit, spending earnings, to cycle beginning again. While creating products to sell, learners worked individually or in small groups to create playdough, salves, firestarters, pendants, handicrafts, dice, or other items to contribute to the store inventory. Learners utilize a tag system to track and pay each market vendor 90% from the sales revenue, allowing 10% to contribute to the salary of the store employees. The process of balancing the books occurs multiple times a week. Some learners work as managers, cashiers, and customer service representatives during store hours where money math solves most transactions.

Along with the unit, knitting and crocheting became a popular pastime in the class. Learners explored the many connections between math and these crafts. For the upcoming unit, we will continue to explore this medium, its connection to mathematical thinking (especially geometry), and the Blue Ridge Mountians.

Projects with Adrienne February Projects started with two Maker Days out of the gate! We have continued to focus on the Elements of Art, reviewing our Color Wheel and introducing shapes, patterns, lines, and textures. Learners learned, discussed, and celebrated Black History Month. Basquiat was our "Artist of the Month" and learners loved seeing how he approached his art, life, and style.

Valentine's Day was a big focus in Projects for the first half of February. In the second week, Learners started and finished their Valentine's Day boxes. Everyone felt excitement for the season of giving and letting people in our lives know we appreciate them. As an all school activity, both the Yellow and Green classes enjoyed finding inspiration for interesting ways to decorate and rig their Valentine's Day boxes.

The Yellow and Green classes talked about shapes and patterns in their "THUMB Buggy Loves You" cards; they collaborated by using their thumb prints as shapes, textures, and patterns on each person's cards to create a class caterpillar!

The Silver Foxes talked about lines and adding shading while learning how to draw an "optical illusion heart" that will fool your eyes using only pencil and marker!

The Silver Foxes wrapped up the last two weeks by finishing their Black History Month projects, timelines, and displays. We also began introducing our newest all school guiding question to everyone, focusing on The Blue Ridge Mountains. Learners seem excited to know about the history, geography, geology, people, art, and overall beauty of our region. Together we will be collaging our own Blue Ridge Landscapes and learning about photo transfers to celebrate the mountains, people, and wildlife that have been stewards of the region for centuries! It's the second oldest mountain range in the World!

AND OF COURSE, every Wednesday and Thursday, our respected and beloved Maker Days. Projects are getting more in-depth, calculated and detailed as Learners explore more materials and techniques, as well as challenge themselves.

Knowledge Seekers with Max

February was a month of transition in Knowledge Seekers. Our month began with finalizing the GAP store, "Trader GAP's". Learners had time to finish crafts to sell, practiced shopping scenarios, and discussed how the store expectations, created by Learners, would be put into practice as a customer or a worker. As the month progressed, Learners have had the opportunity to work at Trader GAP's as a cashier, where they practice math and money skills, or as a customer service worker, where they use problem solving skills to support customers. Working the store is a challenge by choice and includes Learners from all of our flocks.

An additional twist to Trader GAP's is that Learners may elect to trade items instead of using money. To practice trading with our peers in a way that is respectful, we participated in a "trade blanket" lesson during Knowledge Seekers. This activity is inspired by some of the trading practices between Native Americans and French Fur traders in the 1600's and 1700's. We explicitly discussed how our trade blanket was inspired by how trading may have happened but was not an exact representation. Much of the activity happens in silence with participants each offering a trade option for one object. The traders used hand signals and good manners to conduct trades even when languages may have been a barrier.

After Trader GAP's was open and running, our attention turned towards American History. We used Black History Month as inspiration to begin exploring different African American historical figures or organizations and their contributions to our country. The Silver flock picked topics of interest and then an African American historical figure to create a biography on. Using books and internet resources, Learners created artifacts that represented their biography as well as a fun fact page for a timeline that is now displayed on the back wall of the NEST. The Green and Yellow flocks split into small groups and each read a biography on an important African American historical figure. Each group then collaborated on a theme and creation of individual artifacts to create and represent their historical figure. All the artifacts will be on display at the "GAP American History Museum" next door to the nature museum for our next Community Day. It is our goal that our timeline and museum will be a jumping off point to inspire learners to continue to add artifacts and fun facts of figures in American history.

Music with Rachel

We have had a lot of fun in ukulele lessons this month! In the Yellow and Green classes we have continued to work on chords and songs. We sang songs together, like "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", and worked on our individual songs that the Learners chose. We also worked on fun strumming patterns, which help us keep a beat and sound good while strumming during songs! Lastly, we played a fun new game, Big Boss ukulele style, where we got to take turns being the boss and having the group copy our musical moves!

In Silver we continued to work on chords and our song choices. Imagine Dragons continues to be a group favorite! We have started to learn and practice some more advanced chords, like E, D, Em, Dm, and B which show up often in our song choices.

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